Britain's African presence began with the purchase of European rights to Gambia in 1618. The centuries of British rule coincided with the influx of islam in the area, and today the country remains overwhelmingly a Muslim nation. Christianity arrived only in the 19th century, and it remains a distant third behind islam and traditional Gam-bian religions.
   In 1816, a chaplain with the Church of England settled in the country and soon afterward was joined by missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. British Methodists arrived in 1821 and Roman Catholics in the 1840s. For the next century, these three churches provided the sole Christian presence. They constitute the Christian Council of Gabon, affiliated with the World Council of Churches.
   Evangelical groups began to arrive in the 1950s. The German-based New Apostolic Church entered the country in 1970; by 1999, it had 5,000 members, twice as many as any other non-Catholic body.
   See also Africa, sub-Saharan.
   Further reading:
   ■ Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World, 21st Century Edition (Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster, 2001)
   ■ J. R. C. Laughton, Gambia: Country, People and Church in the Diocese of Gambia and the Rio Pongas (London: SPG, 1938)
   ■ B. Prickett, Island Base: A History of the Methodist Church in the Gambia (Bo, Sierra Leone: Bunumbu Press, 1969).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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